Grand Opening, Grand Closing: Action Bronson and Mr. M-fin' eXquire Shut Down Southpaw

New York City had a second coronation show last Thursday night at Southpaw in as many weeks (no, not Lin Da God). The previous Wednesday at Irving Plaza, A$AP Rocky had his unofficial homecoming and brought out a veritable who's who of the hip-hop internets from Bun B to Waka Flocka Flame and early album-of-the year contender Schoolboy Q. Not to be outdone, Action Bronson and Mr. M-fin' eXquire called their friends Das Racist, Smoke DZA, El-P and Cormega (yeah, you read that right) in an incredible night of hip hop, from beginning to end worthy of closing out Southpaw's short but illustrious run as one of the top venues in Park Slope. Both Bronson and eXquire showed why they command headliner status after only a year in the game.

Since putting his culinary aspirations on hold (he worked at his father's Mediterranean restaurant in Forest Hills and enrolled in a program at the Art Institute of New York), Action Bronson has been on an unprecedented tear. The distillation of his love for food, women, drugs and wrestling (most likely in that order) carved out an unmistakable lane (the Ghostface Killah comparisons are stale by this point) and judging by the crowd, an already enormous following. He already has two full-length projects out with another three on the horizon for 2012. Well Done, his most recent collaborative project with his "uglier twin" (his words) producer/DJ Statik Selektah, showcased an emcee growing, expanding his colorful stream-of-conscious raps to the larger canvas of Selektah's meat-and-potatoes style of boom bap. He is an instant star, destined only to get bigger. Last night was just a confirmation of that.

Bam Bam Bigelow hit the stage at 11:30 and wasted no time to get into the raps. As the opening bells of "Barry Horowitz" rang, the 320-pound, ginger-bearded behemoth patted himself on the back before launching off the proverbial turnbuckle onto wack emcees. Aided by his pineapple juice and a shopping bag of green, the Flushing, Queens native ripped through a surprisingly deep catalogue ("Larry Csonka," "Muslim Wedding" and the ode to overweight "Ronnie Coleman") with an ease and affable charm that comes with being (literally) the biggest guy in the room. The good times were infectious, Bronson incredibly excited to be closing out hip-hop in Southpaw with him on top. He brought along fellow NY cohorts Smoke DZA and The Kid Daytona for the ride on "Big Bad & Dangerous" and "Ivory Coast Crime Scene" (respectively), big hits with the local crowd (pun absolutely intended). However, the biggest surprise came when Bronson brought out underground legend/Queens representer Cormega from behind the curtain. The headliner was a-glow watching one of his idols run through a mini, four-song set, content with playing hypeman and finishing rhymes as 'Mega played the role of alderman over the proceedings. Cormega, who still knows his way around a microphone, gave a blessing from one generation of underground Queens rappers to the next by being there last night. It proves that genuine respect in hip-hop can still build outside of twitter & vlogs.

Mr. M'fin eXquire similarly tore the roof off, bringing all of Crown Heights with him on stage. With the stage equally divided between all the cameras on one side and all of his crew on the other, eXquire came out and put on the hypest show he could muster. Emerging behind the curtain head to toe in New York Giants championship gear, eXquire had the crowd eating out of his hand throughout the entire night. He fed off the energy from his incredibly hype crew on stage. They lathered up the crowd, flinging water onto the crowd during the first song as eXquire started to get his bearings. But once the opening notes to "Huzzah 2" lurch in and the hook switched into the patois during the intro, the crowd was all in, hanging on his every word, hypnotically bobbing to the low hum of huzzahuzzahuzzahuzzah by song's end. For a moment towards the end, he disappeared behind the mob of people onstage into the back openly inviting whoever was back there (at this point in the night, it could have been the caterers? EVERYONE was already outside?). He re-emerged with the lineup to the best posse cut of 2011 (minus Danny Brown to the chagrin of one fan who somehow managed to steal the microphone multiple times last night). Southpaw was at a fever pitch when Despot, Das Racist, and a re-invigorated El-P came out to perform "The Last Huzzah," sending everyone on stage and in the crowd into a frenzy. Being one of the two or three songs the crowd really knew, the whole place knocked as they ran through their verses, leaning on one another, waiting for everyone else to yell out and finish their lines. eXquire capped it all off by stage diving into the crowd shirtless and slipping away through the front door without saying goodbye, which I guess considering his "I don't give a f' mentality" is completely normal.

It was a great night of hip-hop from top to bottom put on by Justin Hunt of Brooklyn Bodega and DJ Meka of 2dopeboyz who kept everyone body movin and pretending like they were rappers the entire night. Southpaw should absolutely be proud of the way they are going out. Action Bronson & Mr. M-fin' eXquire should be proud of the way they are going in, undaunted and unafraid of the spotlight. All of New York won Thursday night.

The Rundown:

-Action Bronson: Smoke DZA, The Kid Daytona, Harry Fraud, Party Supplies, Myheem Lauren

-Mr. M-fin' eXquire: Das Racist, Despot, El-P

-Kyle Rapps: Aaron Cohen

-Soul Khan

(During the show) shout-outs to: Danny Brown, J Dilla (RIP), C-Rayz Walz (what?), Joell Ortiz, "LIN DA GOD" - Soul Khan

Watch Action Bronson - "Barry Horowitz"